Sex Roles

, Volume 64, Issue 9–10, pp 732–747 | Cite as

Evolution and Rape: A Feminist Darwinian Perspective

  • Griet Vandermassen
Original Article


It is commonly thought that feminist and evolutionary explanations of rape cannot be integrated. As I aim to show, this view is incorrect. Although feminist and evolutionary approaches are not compatible on all fronts, theories incorporating factors from both perspectives have been proposed, on theoretical as well as empirical grounds. Unfortunately, the debate between feminist and evolutionary scholars is frequently characterized by a lack of mutual openness and by the use of illegitimate arguments. The book A Natural History of Rape (Thornhill and Palmer 2000), and the controversy it provoked, is a case in point. I will highlight a more productive interaction of both perspectives by discussing the work of the feminist evolutionary biologist Barbara Smuts.


Rape Feminism Evolution Dominance Control 



I would like to thank Johan Braeckman, David Buss, Marysa Demoor, Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair, Donald Symons, Jan Verbeeren, and two anonymous reviewers for valuable feedback on earlier drafts of this paper.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.English Department, Centre for Gender StudiesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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